Dr. Tufton Urges Farmers to Help Fill Economic Void


Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton, is urging farmers to increase their production, in order to fill most of the void that has been created by the decline of the bauxite industry.
The Minister, who was addressing the Annual Conference of the St. Elizabeth branch of the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS), on Thursday, (June 18) at the Sharon Baptist Church, noted that a number of business interests are seeking to invest in the sector. This interest, he said, was sparked by the two agri-business seminars that the Ministry staged earlier this year, in Kingston, and New York in the U.S.A.
“We have within the Ministry some 800 expressions of interest coming out of those two seminars. Persons from various socio-economic backgrounds, learned and experienced in industry and commerce, and other forms of economic activities are now asking where can I get the necessary variables – lands, access to credit (etc), so that I can now look at the opportunities in agriculture,” he informed.
Dr. Tufton added that investors are now giving agriculture this kind of attention, out of a recognition that “they have little options, and the best option that is available to provide them with a livelihood, is agriculture. Production is going to become increasingly focussed in the years to come, due to the various fall out in the other economic activities, mainly the bauxite industry.”
He pointed out to the farmers’ group that with the widely accepted view that agriculture is the backbone of the society, both for earning and consumption, “keep producing, because a lot depends on you, the challenge of producing and producing in sufficient quantise, and earning a living from your production is paramount more than ever.”
The Agriculture Minister urged the JAS to look at its role in promoting the need of farmers, and to speak with one voice on behalf of its membership. That he said will enhance the effectiveness of the JAS, and livelihood of the Jamaican farmers.
“My call is for the leadership to be agents of change, in the best interest of farmers. There must be a devolution of powers in the JAS that give greater autonomy to the rank and file members of the organisation. In my own restructuring and reform mode, all the institutions that are linked to agriculture, and the Ministry of Agriculture, need to embrace change, where that change is a more progressive model in the interest of those that they serve,” Dr. Tufton emphasised.

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